Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Funeral part of Sunday Church Service

August 1930 From a Vincennes Newspaper

The Church of the Brethren began their Sunday Services with Sunday school at 10:00 a.m., followed with a sermon. Then the M. E. orchestra of Lawrenceville followed with a musical program until noon.  A large crowd gathered around the tables in the yard and feasted on the many good things to eat and the orchestra gave several more selections.

At 1:45 p.m. the daily Vacation Bible School gave a program.  At 3 p.m. the funeral of Otis Davis who was killed in an accident August 1 was  conducted, and that nigh,t a two week evangelistic campaign began.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Gibbs Cemetery

Hidden away in the woods in Denison Township, lost to time,
Debbie and Gary Griesemer stand
by a tombstone in the Gibbs Cemetery
that they have cleaned up. 
lies the Gibbs Cemetery, once in danger of being swallowed up by overgrown vegetation until Gary and Debbie Griesemer purchased the land.  This spring the Griesemer's chopped down saplings, pulled weeds, and sprayed to kill the poison ivy, all in an effort to restore the one-half acre cemetery to a place of respect.   They carefully troweled off the dirt that covered the stones half buried in the ground, and stood upright the ones that had toppled. They hope to repair some of the broken stones and reset others in the future.  

This past  Saturday the Griesemer's proudly showed the descendants of the Alexander and Ann (Seed) Irwin family, the old weathered tombstones that had lain practically hidden in the secluded spot.  In all, twenty-six descendants came from Ohio, Texas and other parts of the country to attend the Harley F. Irwin Family Reunion held once every two years in various locations.  While not all of the attendees wanted to venture through the soybean field into the weeds to get to the cemetery, the ones that did were grateful to the Griesemer’s for the work they had done.

In addition to the Irwin family ancestors, there are also Gibbs, Ramsey, Gould and Winship names on the twenty or so old tombstones. By reviewing early land records John King of the Lawrence County Historical Society found that all of these families were neighbors living within one mile or so from the cemetery and most were related by marriage.  The graves date from the 1840s through the 1880s.

Cemeteries are a part of a collective history with the tombstones memorializing people who once lived in the County.  King provided some interesting stories about those whose remains now lie here. Aaron W. Gould, age 36, died in 1888 in Arkansas when he was hit by a freight train.  His body, except for an arm that couldn’t be found, was returned to this little country cemetery to be buried next to his parents. 

The descendants standing 
by the grave of Alexander Irwin
 who died in 1855 are 
his Gr-Gr grandson and 
three of his Gr-Gr-Gr-grandsons.
The tombstones for Rev. William Ramsey and his wife are also there, both of the Ramsey’s dying before the Civil War. Ramsey is thought to have been one of the first babies born in Vincennes in 1786 as an American citizen. He later became the second minister for the Spring Hill New Light Church, and founded the Bethlehem New Light Christian Church in the southern part of the County. 

In the shade of the old trees at the cemetery, the Irwin’s shared their genealogy with King.  Alexander Irwin was born in Ireland, married in Philadelphia and relocated to Lawrence County, near the cemetery before his death in 1855.
The Lawrence County Historical Society commends the Griesemer’s for their efforts in preserving a part of Lawrence County history, and urges others to clean up and restore neglected and forgotten cemeteries.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Native American Artifact Identification Day

From 11am-5 pm, on August 25th, 2018, the Lawrence County Historical Society will be hosting an Artifact Identification Day with B. Jacob Skousen, Archaeologist with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey at the History Center located at 12th and State St on the northwest corner of the Lawrenceville Square. Bring in your Native American artifacts and learn what your artifacts are, how they might have been used, and in what time period they were possibly made.

There is no charge to bring your Native American artifacts to the History Center to be identified and dated, but the coordinators do request that you register in advance to prevent you from having to wait a long time. Stop by the Research Library, the History Center or contact us by email at lawrencelore@gmail.com. For more information call 618-943-4317. 

It's like Antique Roadshow but without prices being provided......If you have over 12 items, then PLEASE call ahead.  . 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Tried to Jump on Train and Died

Sumner Press August 12, 1909 

Vangilder, Walter

Sunday afternoon about 2:30 pm in attempting to board a moving freight train in which he had a load of livestock, Walter Vangilder fell under the wheels of the train and was instantly killed. 

He, with his hired man had just loaded a car of sheep for the St. Louis markets. As soon as the car was closed he went to the depot, signed the necessary papers and returned to the main railroad crossing on Christy Avenue in Sumner.  By that time the train crew had taken the car out and placed it in the train and were coming from the east, past Mr. Vangilder who was standing on the crossing talking to one of his hired men, John Green. 

Just as the train came along, he attempted to board the second or third car from the front ans in some way he fell across the track and four pairs of wheels passed over his body.  It was dragged about 100 feet west when the train was brought to a stop.  The body was badly mangled and from the nature of the wounds, death evidently instantaneous. The remains were tenderly cared for and taken to the office of Dr. B. F. Hockman and afterwards to the undertaking establishment of Staninger and Staninger, prepared for burial and then conveyed to the deceased's home northwest of the city.  

A coroner’s inquest was held Monday morning rendering a verdict that death resulted from attempting to board a moving freight train on the B&O Southwest Railroad.  W. H. Mieure, of Lawrenceville was foreman of the jury, Dr. W. R. Dale, G. P. English, Alex King, J. W. Armitage and G. W. Hill.  Mr. Vangilder was a prominent stock dealer and thrasher. 

Funeral services were held Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. from the family residence and interment made in the Sumner Cemetery.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Divorce of Daniel Ravatt

Yesterday's blog was about research John King had found about Daniel Ravatt, a wealthy timber man and farmer owning swampland on the Lawrence  and Wabash County Line.  It ended with a promise of gossip about a divorce. 

Attorney S. J. Gee of Lawrenceville offered proof that the husband, Daniel Ravatt was worth $100,000 to $200,000, and was one of the richest farmers in the county. Mrs. Ravatt wanted her share. The evidence she offered was that of almost every imaginable kind of brutality and meanness caused her by her husband.  Daniel attempted to blacken his wife’s character by accusing her of unchastity with the hired man. About 150 witnesses were subpoenaed.   

Alice Ravatt was granted the divorce but only $300 as a year as alimony. Evidently Judge Creighton was not a big believer in alimony.

The former Mrs. Ravatt, apparently having had time to reflect, perhaps upon the salary that hired hands make, refiled an application for a change in allowance asking for $3000 a year or $25,000  lump sum settlement. The facts appeared to be that they had married on March 4, 1889 when Alice was only 24 years of age.  Daniel had been a widower, having been married twice before.

Alice, further stated that when she married Daniel, he was the owner of about 1700 hundred acres of land and as a result of their joint efforts during the eighteen years they had lived together their livestock and personal property had more than doubled.  He had purchased 300 more acres at $100 an acre since their marriage, too. 

Daniel’s former wife said that she had not only done the housework and cared for the help upon the large farm, but did a lot of outdoor work as well, such as feeding the stock, caring for the cattle, hogs, and horses, and milking cows in all kinds of weather frequently having to wade in mud, shoe-top deep, and all of this work destroyed her health and made her an old woman before her time.  (She was  forty-four.)  

Since the divorce she claimed that Daniel paid the alimony begrudgingly and in a manner to harass and anger her. (I hate to tell you this, Alice, but this is usually what happens with alimony payments.)  However, when oil was discovered on her ex- husband’s property, she decided she had had enough of poverty. She needed more alimony.

However, this didn’t exactly turn out the way she anticipated.  Her alimony was increased to $50 a month or $12,000 a year, and she retained her dower right in the real estate her former husband had purchased while they were married which would add a value of $28,000 to her total. (I am guessing that wasn’t the parcel of land where oil was discovered.)

Ed Note:  John King continued sending me comments about the Hershey family, and how John’s  Grandfather Ramsey had owned the land before he died in 1918 from the Spanish flu, and so on and so on, ending with something about a Waterloo Boy tractor that he had confused with a Hart-Parr tractor owned by Rose Robeson’s father-in-law 100 years ago. Thanks, John, I’ve got it now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Daniel S Ravatt/Rayvatt

I wanted to use the following newspaper on the blog but I thought it would be more interesting if I had additional information so I asked John King to help me. (I thought he would find the land prices interesting because this is in his neighborhood.) 

Vincennes Commercial August 15, 1918 St. Francisville The well-known D. S. Rayvatt farm in upper Wabash and southern Lawrence County was sold at public sale last Thursday. The farm was composed of a large part of the old Hershey estate, one of the oldest farms in southern Illinois, on which is still standing and in use, the first frame barn erected in Wabash County. On the farm is also one of the largest bodies of timber in the two counties. The land was sold in several separate farms, some of which went very low considering the surrounding values.
ohn G. Trimble secured first choice at a $1.25 per acre with I. W. Beckes paying the lowest price of $.50 per acre for the West 110 acres. Joe and C.E. Jordan secured the part in Lawrence County, Carlton and Andrew Hershey the part known as the Dan Hershey farm, on which is located the old barn. This land formed a large part of an area 2 ½ miles long and 1 ½ miles wide, through which no roads were ever permitted to be constructed, throwing the traffic to the roads east and west, adding much distance to travel. Perhaps the separate holdings will result in a much needed road being built.

I was surprised by John’s response.  Even though this article was about people in his neighborhood, albeit one hundred years ago, (he isn’t that old) the Ravatt name was one he had never heard before.  So immediately he began researching Daniel S. Ravatt/ Rayvatt, and learned that he was born in 1852 in NJ and died on his Wabash Co. farm NW of Allendale in 1915.

Rayvatt farm 1920 with woodcutter's family
In a 1920  American Lumberman magazine( Where DOES he find these things?)  John unearthed an article about the Rayvatt farm.  Apparently the farm was proof that commercial timber could be grown on cut-over swamp lands. When Rayvatt purchased 1200 acres of what was then thought to be practically worthless swamp lands, some people smiled and shook their heads. All the first class trees had been cut and sold, and at the time of the purchase, the land was covered with small saplings of hickory, gum, ash and other native woods.  The farm was immediately converted into a stock range, with care being given to the growing trees.  Saplings were thinned, and culls and injured trees were removed.  As a result all the posts and timber needed for farm use was secured from trees grown on the land.  The swamp land was very rich and moist and as a result trees grew rapidly. Trees, as big as two feet in diameter, soon grew there. About sixty acres were covered with hickory, extremely valuable as wagon material. Another section of the swamp was covered with oak trees that yielded many thousands of railroad ties.  

So that was interesting if you like trees, but then John’s research got better.  Well, not for poor Daniel though.  On April 25, 1907 the Vincennes Sun Commercial ran an article about a ‘salacious divorce’ between Alice Ravatt vs Dan S. Ravatt.  (Now this is what I am talking about, John!) Wait for the details, tomorrow..... 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Interesting Suicide 1917

Vincennes Commercial July 13, 1917 
Mystery solved

The mystery connected with the disappearance from his home Tuesday of George Paddick, a young farmer living near Chauncey, was solved Sunday morning when Fred Paddick, a brother found the body of Paddick near the home. An empty barrel in the gun which he carried when he left home, told the gruesome tale. The Lawrence County News had the following to say regarding the suicide:

"George Paddick, about 35 years old, committed suicide Tuesday afternoon, but the body was not found until Sunday morning. Mystery surrounds the suicide and while all kinds of conflicting rumors are in circulation, so far as we have been able to learn, there is no foundation for any of them.

Paddick was employed by the Central Refining Company, and made his home with his brother, Fred Paddick, near Chauncey. He was the grandson of S.M. Wagner, both of his parents being dead.

Tuesday afternoon he took his shotgun and told the family he was going out to kill a few rabbits. Sometime during the afternoon a shot was heard, but no attention was paid to it. He failed to return in the evening and a search was instituted, but he could not be found.

The search was kept up Wednesday and part of Thursday, when it was suggested that the colored fortuneteller at Olney be consulted. Accordingly, a party went to Olney and interviewed ‘Teen,’ who informed them that it was useless to continue the search as Paddick had gone to the northern part of the state. An effort was then made to get the bloodhounds from St. Francisville but their owner informed the party that the trail was too old to follow.

No further effort was made to locate the missing man, but Sunday morning his brother, Fred, found the body a short distance from the house. His gun, a double-barreled one, was lying at his side with one barrel empty. The charge had entered his throat, tearing a gaping wound and death must have been instantaneous. The body was badly decomposed and was buried Sunday evening at 6 o’clock, after Corner Fritz held an inquest. The verdict of the jury was that the deceased came to his death by his own hands.

There is absolutely no reason for the suicide. The young man was to have been married in a short time, and so far as known had no cause for committing the rash act.

(Ed Note:  There are so many things about this story that bother the researchers.
If the body was eventually found a short distance from the house, why didn't the searchers find it earlier? Was there a note left by the deceased to state he was going to commit suicide--he said he was going to shoot rabbits? And who suggested the fortuneteller be consulted? What was that albout?  And when the fortuneteller said Paddick had gone to the northern part of the state when he was in fact lying dead in the field, did the fortuneteller mean the northern part of the state is eternity? And why didn't they get the bloodhounds earlier?  And finally, the editor suggested that because the deceased was about to be married, he had no cause to commit suicide. That might be a question best answered by the propective bridegroom who did commit suicide after all......)